Voices Unheard: LGBT Young People and Domestic Abuse


The Voices Unheard project was established by a group of young people from LGBT Youth Scotland. Using peer research, the young people from Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Scottish Borders sought to find out lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people’s understanding, knowledge, and experience of domestic abuse in their families and relationships. A national online survey complemented our focus groups.

Looking at the crossover between domestic abuse and homophobia, biphobia and transphobia as forms of gender based violence, we have developed guidance and training for professionals.  The main goal of the Voices Unheard members is to help service providers increase their knowledge and understanding of LGBT young people’s support needs when experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse.

Voices Unheard training video


Just as domestic abuse is a form of gender based violence, so too are homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. LGBT people experience domestic abuse in ways similar to heterosexual women, but there are additional experiences. Services should think about the following things:

1.   LGBT young people witnessing domestic abuse in their families.They are less likely to come out to their families.

2.   Young people witnessing domestic abuse in LGBT families. Young people who witness domestic abuse in their parents' relationship may have a fear of being stereotyped as an LGBT person themselves or experience homophobia, biphobia or transphobia. They may also have a fear of not being taken seriously. 

3.  LGBT young people in their own relationships. Do you understand the different ways LGBT people can experience domestic abuse? LGBT young people may not know that a service will provide support to them. For gay, bisexual and transgender men, there may be no support service in their area. 


Undertaking research with other LGBT young people, we found out the following things:

  • 61% of the respondents had witnessed some form of abuse in their families.
  • 79% of the young people believed that someone who had witnessed domestic abuse in their family or home would feel less confident to ‘come out’ as a result.
  • 52% of respondents said that they had experienced some form of abusive behaviour from a partner or ex-partner.
  • Although 52% of respondents identified having experienced some form of abusive behaviour from a partner or ex-partner, only 37% recognised the behaviour as abuse.
  • 24% of respondents had experienced physical violence from a partner or ex-partner.
  • Half of the respondents who identified as transgender had been made to feel insecure about their gender identity by a partner or ex-partner.
  • Over 30% of those who had experienced abuse had deliberately tried to hurt themselves since experiencing domestic abuse.
  • 20% of respondents who had experienced abuse had tried to kill themselves since experiencing domestic abuse.

You can download the full Voices Unheard report here.

For more information, visit our training page!

The Voices Unheard Project has created the following resources to raise your understanding of supporting LGBT young people who are witnessing or experiencing domestic abuse.

  1. Training video
  2. Support Services: What LGBT Young People Want (Handout)
  3. Voices Unheard research report
  4. Myths and Realities
  5. Scenarios
  6. Ask us a Question!



“It was a long day and we had a lot of work to do but we stayed at it and supported each other through the filming and kept each other amused while others were filming. It was a really good experience and the film crew made it more enjoyable. Overall it was a really fun and successful day and I wouldn’t mind doing it again”. 

Click on the image below to view the video. 

On the 14th of January 2012, the Voices Unheard group came together in Edinburgh to come up with some ideas for a training video to help out organisations with LGBT Domestic Abuse. It was a successful day as we had a lot of good ideas and created a script for the training video where everyone was involved. We took ownership over the script and decided on how the training video would be filmed. Overall it was a successful day and all the young people involved had a whale of a time.

Over the 27th – 29th of January, the Voices Unheard group came together in Edinburgh once more to film the training video we had devised two weeks before. On the first night, the young people rehearsed their scripts until they got them perfect. They made a lot of progress considering the long day they had had. On the second day, the young people prepared for the day ahead by revising over our script a few more times before traveling to the studio where the video would be shot. Once at the studio, we then took part in the process of creating the training video. We worked well together and were very supportive of each other when preparing to film and patient when others were filming. With all the different filming techniques used throughout the day, we gave our all no matter the conditions.


We have come up with a list of things that you could do at your service to make sure that LGBT young people feel supported and welcome. You can download it here


The report published in 2011 has more information on our research with LGBT young people who have witnessed or experienced domestic abuse. You can download it here


  1. Young LGBT people do not have serious and meaningful relationships and cannot experience domestic abuse in their own relationships.

Young LGBT people can and do have serious and meaningful relationships, and can also experience domestic abuse. Domestic abuse can occur in many different forms. These include sexual, financial, emotional and physical abuse.

  1. Young LGBT people do not witness domestic abuse in their own home, in the same way as heterosexual young people.

Yes they do.  All young people, whether they are LGBT or heterosexual, can witness domestic abuse in their own home. Young people in LGBT families can also witness domestic abuse.

  1. LGBT young people do not perpetrate domestic abuse.

Yes, this does happen.  Anyone can perpetrate domestic abuse.  It is about controlling and gaining power over another individual. 

  1. Young LGBT people are likely to report domestic abuse and seek help from professionals.

This is untrue.  Young LGBT people are less likely to report domestic abuse and seek help, for several reasons. First, LGBT young people are less likely than their peers to recognise an abusive relationship. This can be due to very few positive LGBT people and relationships portrayed in the media and society. They may also worry about their partner or ex-partner telling others about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Sometimes, LGBT young people are unsure that a service will support LGBT people or young people who are experiencing domestic abuse. 


To explore the issues that are faced by LGBT young people experiencing domestic abuse, LGBT young people witnessing domestic abuse and young people witnessing domestic abuse in LGBT families, we have five scenarios for you to think about. The scenario hand out comes with questions for discussion.